I have to tell a funny story about a sermon illustration I gave yesterday. The text was 1 Kings 19 where we read the story of when Elijah runs for his life. He runs for 40 days without food and water. As I’m telling the story I stop and comment about the significance of the number 40 in the Bible–you know, the flood came from 40 days and 40 nights of rain, the Israelites were enslaved for 40 decades, Moses was on Mt. Sinai 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days and 40 nights. Then I say something along these lines…
“I want to tell you something because I think the timing of this is so interesting. Tomorrow (Monday, November 4) will be 40 days since I took my last comprehensive exam.” The congregation chuckles at this point. I pause for dramatic effect. “And I still haven’t heard if I passed or not.” A sympathetic sigh gently sweeps across the congregation. It is one of those pastor/congregation moments of personal connection.
Here’s the really funny part of the story. When we got home from church, Lona hands me a letter from Luther Seminary. It had come in the mail on Saturday, but no one checked the mail. I opened it and, ta da! I passed my comprehensive exams. Later that night, at Sunday Evenings @ Grace, Lona told everyone and people were giving me various levels of teasing about whether I actually knew before the sermon or not. It was all good fun.
Here’s the really, really funny part of the story. This morning I rechecked my calendar. I had miscounted the days. The 40th day would have been Tuesday, not Monday.
In other words, I lied (not intentionally) on two counts during my sermon!!! One, I HAD heard from the Seminary, I just hadn’t checked the mail. Two, I got the day WRONG. I suppose my need to share my personal struggle with the congregation clouded my need for precision. What a whiner-baby!
I suppose there is a sermon illustration in that, too. 🙂
Thank you to all who have been so supportive during this long journey of schooling. I have been overwhelmed by the encouraging comments.